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Monday, March 21, 2005

Noodling Away

This food blog business is getting out of control.

It's getting to be that anywhere you go, there's some dude or dudette snapping pictures right and left of bunches of cardoons or of their hot pot fixings. At least, that's what I saw this past Saturday at the Ferry Building Farmers' Market. But then, if you were ever to see a food blogger (flogger) anywhere, the FBFM would definitely be up on the list.

I can't help but wonder what the food producers think of this fad, phase, trend, or whatever it is/has become. Does it worry them that a negative post could hurt business? Do they think we're insane? Do they fear stalkers? Will floggers begin to be treated like regular (God forbid!) journalists, thus forcing us to go underground to review a restaurant or food retailer? Seriously, now that everyone knows what the floggers look like from that Chronicle article, will their reviewing integrity become as compromised as Michael Bauers? (Though, kudos to Sam for at least donning the sunglasses and trench coat. You looked fabulous!)

And speaking of, I wonder what real effect it will have/does have on the established food critics who potentially see us as stepping in on their turf. Actually, for the food critics whose newspapers publish on the web for anyone to freely read, I think that the presence of food blogs helps keep them edgy because they face competition, not from other for-profit publications, but from the general public. Those who publish in online newspapers/magazines that charge a subscription fee, I think, are worse off, because print readership is declining while Internet readership only grows. And unless you work for a high-profile publication, most people will vote with their checkbook and head towards the free sites before they head to yours.

However, it's very possible that we're just riding a wave that will eventually peeter out as soon as burnout sets in, and if you take a look at some of the other, older, food blogs, that's what we are beginning to see. If that's the case, the establishment food-writing world has nothing to worry about in the long term. But if food blogs cease being a fad and become a steady trend, then I think we'll all benefit, even the establishment food-writing press, with better writing, better reviews, a greater level of sophistication and advocacy.

Not that you'll find any of that stuff on this blog. This blog is just pure, unadulterated filth.

Speaking not of filth, my jaunt in the rain down to the FBFM on Saturday morning (sans cartoons and KQED cooking shows) yielded some new and positive things. The first was cheese from Achadinha Goat Cheese Company, which is a relatively new cheese outfit of an older functioning dairy farm in Petaluma. There were three items for sale at their stand: Goat Summer Sausage, a semi-soft cheese, and a harder (though not really a grating cheese) cheese. The sausage wasn't all that special, though it was unique from pork sausage in that it had the goat-y, game-y flavor. For my taste, it could've been a little more seasoned.

The two cheeses, however, were really good. The semi-soft cheese, called Broncha, was slightly dry but creamy, mild and delicate, with a very slight tang. This cheese, as well as the other, was not at all what I was use to in a goat cheese. The other cheese, the Capricious, was excellent. It was firm, but easily broken off. It had a rich, mildly salty, tangy, almost floral flavor to it that snuck up the back of my throat and filled my sinuses with an aroma I knew but couldn't put my finger on. This was a fine cheese that was cut fresh from the wheel to order and apparently is cave aged. This cheese would've been great to serve with a little balsamic vinegar, a few marcona almonds, and some great bread.

My other purchases that day were Marin Sun Farm eggs, Acme Sour Batard, and a new bottle of Bariani olive oil. The eggs are truly free-range and do have a more eggy taste, if only because the yolks are much bigger than supermarket eggs. Bariani's oil this year is clearer and has a more grassy, peppery taste because, according to Sebastian Bariani, the olives were harvested earlier this year because of frost. The cloudier oil of last year, which I prefer, comes from the riper olives, while this year's olive oil picked from green olives is clear with more sediment settling on the bottom. Of course, the riper the olives, the less assertive the oil. But, green or ripe, I still love Bariani's oil and definitely consider it the finest olive oil produced in California, not only because of its great flavor, but because they date the oil on the label, the prices are fair, and they don't bottle it in clear, square bottles, which annoys the crap out of me. By the way, guess how many olive trees goes to produce Bariani olive oil? Give up? How about 17,000. According to Sebastian, the oil is produced from Manzanillo and Mission olives grown on their Sacramento grove. That's a lot of table olives, which by the way, we could see Bariani start producing in the near future.

Clockwise: Acme Sour Batard, Bariani EVO oil, Achadinha Capricious goat cheese, Achadinha Broncha goat cheese, Marin Sun Farm hard-boiled egg

Since I had some new eggs, I thought I would make some fresh egg pasta, which I haven't made in some time. It's pretty easy and fool proof and if you've never done it before, you should try this recipe out. Fresh pasta like this is really filling and easy to prepare. It literally cooks in seconds. I usually dress it in a simple butter/garlic sauce, although it's great with any red or green sauce. Also, this pasta is a lot chewier than dried semolina pasta, which you may or may not like. I like, and we like, so I make. OK. Must not speak in broken English. I use a food processor to mix the dough for the pasta, but you can do it on a work surface as well.

This pasta makes enough for 2 with some left over. You could stretch it for 3 if you had a side or two. Take 2½ cups of flour and sift it into the food processor. Sifting is important because it produces a smoother dough, while kneading it significantly makes it more elastic. Add to the sifted flour a teaspoon of salt and a tablespoon of olive oil. Turn on the food processor and through the feeding tube (sans the actual tube), crack open one egg and add. Pulse for about 30 seconds, then add another egg. Repeat. Occasionally, open the top and with a rubber spatula, push down anything that has accumulated on the side. Continue to pulse or mix until the dough forms a ball. If this isn't happening (which is common), add a little cold water, just a teaspoon at a time while the machine is running. Continue to do this until the mixture forms a ball.

Remove the dough and transfer to a floured surface. Knead the dough by folding it in on itself repeatedly and well, I don't know, you know how to knead, right? Just pretend you're trying to smother your worst enemy with a pillow, only they won't die because they're the evil undead. When about 5 or 10 minutes of killing has passed, form the dough into a ball and cover with a bowl. Let it rest for an hour.

Well-Hung Pasta

When that hour has passed, separate the dough into 2 or 3 pieces. With a rolling pin (or if you're lucky to have a pasta machine), roll the dough as flat as you can get it without tearing and roll it into a rectangular shape. If rolling by hand, this part is usually work intensive, but hey, I know you can do it! When that sucker is about as flat as you can get it, hang it somewhere to rest. I usually take a broom and rest it horizontally between two points. I also cover the handle with paper towels just to be sanitary.

When you are finished rolling out the dough and the resting dough has a leathery feel, then take a piece and from the bottom roll it up. Once rolled, use a sharp knife and cut the roll into half-inch pieces (thinner or wider, your preference). Then, unravel each piece, until you have 4 or 5 laying side by side, and loosely wrap the bunch around your hand and place on a floured surface.

Rolled and Cut

Continue until all of the pasta has been cut and loosely rolled in little bundles. Let the pasta sit like this for around 30 minutes and then cook or refrigerate. Cooking the pasta, in boiling salted water, will only take a minute, so it's best to prepare your sauce before hand. You should eat this pasta as soon as possible, because it doesn't keep long and it doesn't freeze well.

And despite the temptation to whip someone in the eye with one of these hearty noodles, you must resist.

Ready to Cook



Anonymous Anonymous said...

hey I saw you!

I mean, i probably did cause i was there taking pictures (*hangs head in shame*).

next time bump me "on accident" so my beet pictures will come out all blurry and arty.


3:49 PM  
Blogger Bacon Press said...


Unless you're a guy, I didn't see you, but I'll keep my eyes open next time and make sure to "accidentally" bump into you.

(insert evil laugh)

And by the way, LOVE the photos!


4:29 PM  

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